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Watch West End family dramas on stage

Marianka Swain
Marianka Swain

You just can’t beat family when it comes to riveting drama. Perhaps that’s because no one gets under your skin quite like the people you love and who know you best – and who are bonded to you by blood, like it or not. From Greek tragedy through Shakespearean slanging matches and contemporary clans, shows with family drama at their centre have always ruled our stages.

That’s certainly true of London theatre this year, which features a range of bickering families, whether they’re fired up by religious difference, competition over inheritance, hurt feelings, well-intentioned lies, or a mother attempting to seduce her own son. (That latter is actually a funny musical rather than Ancient Greek angst – after all, comedy equals tragedy plus time.)

So, if you’re eager to get a sneak peek into someone else’s family drama, whether through a new play, a starry revival or a celebrated musical, get some inspiration from our round-up of the best family shows in London.

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Back to the Future

The particular conundrum that Marty McFly faces in this hit musical adaptation of the beloved movie is slightly less relatable. How many of us have accidentally time-travelled to the 1950s, where we must get our parents to fall in love so that our family won’t be wiped out – except, slight issue, our mother fancies us?

OK, that’s probably just Marty. But we can definitely relate to his love for his family, and the way his relationships with his parents are redefined once he gets to know them as people. Plus this hugely entertaining West End show has a rocking score and incredible special effects: entertainment for the whole family.

Book Back to the Future tickets on London Theatre.

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Frozen

Family also defines Disney’s mega-hit Frozen, now a majestic West End musical. At its heart is the relationship between the two very different sisters: serious, anxious Elsa, who hides her magic away as her parents taught her, and goofy, open-hearted Anna, who doesn’t understand why she’s been left all alone.

Watching the siblings gradually reconnect over the course of the show is utterly joyful, as is seeing the additions to their found family – Olaf, Kristoff and Sven. All your favourite songs from the movie are there, like “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” and “Let It Go”, plus the stage show has new numbers such as a duet for the sisters, “I Can’t Lose You."

Book Frozen tickets on London Theatre.

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Shakespeare plays

If it’s a family drama you’re after, you’ve got plenty to choose from at Shakespeare’s Globe. The 2022 summer season includes Much Ado About Nothing, which sees a community torn apart when bride-to-be Hero is wrongly accused of promiscuity – much to the fury of her father Leonato and agony of her cousin Beatrice. Thankfully, since Much Ado is a comedy, we also get a sparring romance and a happy ending.

More complications arise in the magical world of The Tempest, with sorcerer Prospero nudging his daughter Miranda into a tryst with the shipwrecked Ferdinand – partly as a revenge plot against his treacherous brother Antonio. But there may yet be hope for reconciliation.

Photo credit: Mad House (Photo by Marc Brenner)

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